How do we know that God’s mercy is very evident? Based upon Scripture, a significant clue is found in the numerous churches that are a part of the landscape. All too often people offer criticism that there are far too many churches. But, the truth of the matter is that the mercy of God is manifested in those visible sanctuaries that are dedicated to worship of the Lord.
Consider, for instance, how God pointed out to Israel in Zechariah 1:16 that He was “returned to Jerusalem with mercies: My house shall be built in it, saith the Lord of Hosts.” The whole of the prophet word of Zechariah was an encouragement to God’s people to get on with the rebuilding of the Temple after they had endured years of defeat and exile.
The Temple represented willingness on the part of God to give visible assurance that He was being merciful, not only to His people, but to mankind at large. The completed Temple served as a specific point of proof that God was very active in the affairs of man.
That principle is no less true today. God wills that people know that He is merciful. At the very least, the church building is the visible symbol through which He has chosen to reveal the surety of His mercy and presence to varieties of people throughout every generation. In addition to His mercy and presence, the church building also verifies other important spiritual truths.
First, the church building not only affirms that God is active in the affairs of man, but that He is also in control of the affairs of men. It is important for us to remember this point, and, once again, the proof is in the Word. Take notice about the Seventy Years of judgment on God’s people. God had forewarned them that their disobedience would bring judgment on them.
True to His word, it happened.
But, He also said that it would end after those seventy years.
True to His word, it happened.
But, He qualified it all with, “I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies.” In due course, the visible Temple became proof of His merciful activity in the affairs of man.
By contemporary contrast, though the world around us may appear chaotic, God remains in control in accordance to His will. And, every church building is a powerful reminder that He is still mercifully working for His glory and our benefit. Thus, every church building stands to give us a continual measure of hope.
Second, the church building is that visible assurance of God’s comfort. As it related to the Temple, Zechariah pointed out that “the Lord shall spread comfort.” This served as a great encouragement to a people who had been discomfited, discomforted, and discouraged for so long because of what they knew they had lost with God. The Temple stood as visible assurance that the Lord would comfort those who turned to Him in faith and trust.
Just like the Temple, the local church building is a powerful of the same — God will comfort all those willing to turn to Him. So many times, struggling people are cheered in the Lord by the sight of a church building. Numbers of the hurting frequently find renewed spiritual strength and peace during their particular times of need.
Oh, most certainly, the church building is a dynamic reminder that “the eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the (His) everlasting arms.”
Now, I am very sure that the building is not “the church.” The church is actually made up of born- again believers in Jesus Christ. But, the building is an inescapable reminder of what God is all about through those believers.
When I see it as God sees it, there is no way that there are too many churches. After all, we need an abundant display of God’s evident mercy.
Pastor Ron Branch lives in Mason County and is pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Middleport, Ohio. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.